Carlmont’s live winter concerts flourish after online performances

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Jazzlin Yee

The Jazz Ensemble performs on the last night of the Carlmont Instrumental Music Winter Concert.

Carlmonts instrumental music program performed live at the Winter Concert last week after over a year of only recorded performances and online practices. 

Hundreds of people attended these concerts in person and watched them online. For safety reasons, the audience members were required to be masked and show proof of vaccination. The concert was spread over three days and included various instrumental groups ranging from String Orchestra to Jazz Ensemble. 

“It’s been a couple of years since we’ve done them in person, and I’m nervous, but I’m really excited to be back out there and playing music,” Anjali Mehta, a senior flutist, said. “My last concert was the winter concert from when I was a sophomore, and I feel like the ensemble as a whole has progressed so much.”

During the pandemic, ensembles could not rehearse or practice together, and musicians had to record their parts before the concert. Music teachers and students spent hours piecing together and editing details to create the final products.

The String Orchestra played an online Spring Concert last May. Image by Carlmont Instrumental Music.

“It was an incredible amount of effort by lots of people, and we had to do an amazing amount of learning,” Jordan Webster, a music teacher, said. “They were valuable and essential, but there’s a joy in performing live and together that is just irreplaceable.”

Last year, many students felt that online music rehearsals were unengaging and detrimental to their growth as a musician.

“I do get kind of lazy on the computer because I feel like it doesn’t matter as much,” Elena Bilello, a sophomore trombonist, said. “It’s definitely more nerve-wracking in person, but I’m glad to be doing it. I hated online performances because they seemed fake and unofficial.”

Nowadays, the groups can rehearse and collaborate in person, rejuvenating their passion and drive to play music. Regardless of the sudden change from online to in-person learning, many musicians persevered and regained any lost skills.

“By high school, at least everyone’s already done a concert before, so the transition has not been difficult,” Webster said. “I was prepared to have the level of music be a little bit lower just because everyone’s rusty, but the level was there, and it was as good as or higher than it has ever been.”

Since live performances have returned, musicians are getting themselves back into the mindset of wanting to deliver satisfactory performances.

I remember when I was a freshman and everyone was older than me. I wondered what it would look like when everyone graduated, but now we have so many talented underclassmen. I’m really excited to see how they’re going to progress and how all the ensembles will get better.”

— Anjali Mehta

“I didn’t really feel much difference in terms of work ethic because everyone’s still working pretty hard,” Darrell Ye, a sophomore bassoonist, said. “Other people have been working a little harder because they’re getting back into the swing of actually performing live.”

Many people have recognized Carlmont’s music program, and its Jazz Ensemble was even featured on a local radio station, KCEA.

“I think it’s really cool that we got to be featured on the radio,” Bilello said. “It gives more people an opportunity to listen to us and discover our school’s program, and we could get more fundraising for the music program.”

The music program has grown and blossomed over the years, and many are optimistic about its future.

“I’m super excited,” Webster said. “I don’t know what our numbers are (moving forward), but Carlmont musicians are envoys to the younger musicians and reach out to them and mentor them. I‘m feeling pretty positive that it’s going to be great.

Many members of the program believe that it has much potential, and they have high expectations for both the musicians and the group as a whole. 

“There’s a lot of talented and extraordinary people here at the Carlmont music program,” Ye said. “I think the music program here is really good, and I think it has an incredible future.”